40 doctors, nurses arrive from Cuba
Forty Cuban medical professionals were on Monday welcomed to the island under the Technical Cooperation Agreement signed between Jamaica and Cuba.
Senior director of human resource management and administration in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Gail Hudson, who gave the keynote address on behalf of the minister, said the arrival of the healthcare professionals was timely.
“This time of year, we see an excess number of persons visiting our hospitals and health centres due to the increase in the number of cases of upper respiratory illnesses, including dengue and the flu,” Hudson said, adding that the illnesses affect Jamaica’s most vulnerable – children and the elderly.
Six of the 40 professionals will be equally assigned to the Western and North Eastern regional health authorities while the remaining 34 will serve in the South Eastern region.
The team comprises doctors, nurses and a medical physicist. Of the 16 nurses who arrived, all but one will work at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
Week of orientation
National coordinator of the Cuban Medical Brigade, Dr José Armando Arronte Villamarín, explained that the Cubans will undergo a week of orientation.
He explained that the placement interviews were done in English but the majority of participants are still not fluent speakers of the language.
“This orientation programme includes some of the most common words that they have to phrase in the health centre or the hospital in Patois, English language, some of the protocols and medication that we use in Jamaica,” he said.
Cuban Ambassador Inés Fors Fernandez, in her remarks, noted that the welcome ceremony coincided with the third anniversary of the death of late President Fidel Castro.
“On a day as symbolic as today, full of emotion and meaning, on which Cubans have shared commitments and convictions, we think of Fidel, of his ideas, of his prolific and indispensable legacy, as a way of nurturing this genuine desire to keep him among us forever,” she said.
Fernández reminded the health professionals that as the field of medicine evolves, they should provide “exceptional, innovative, ethical and quality service”.
She is confident that their contribution will be remarkable, as they add to the thousands of Cubans who have worked in Jamaica since the beginning of the cooperation.
Sonia Hernandez Salomon has worked as an intensive care and emergency nurse for 28 years.
“Yes, yes, yes! I am happy,” said Salomon, who has been assigned to the Bustamante Hospital for Children, under the two-year bilateral agreement.